The Dirt (now streaming on Netlfix) is a movie about the rise and fall of Motley Crue, one of the most influential and famous Glam Metal/Hair bands in the 1980s, in the ranks with Twisted Sister, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and KISS.
The film is based on the books accounting their stories, written by each member: bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee, singer Vince Neil and guitarist Mick Mars. Though the book itself is a recounting of Motley Crue’s beginnings, legendary party personas, and eventual downfall, it is a hardcore study on addiction, the devastation it causes, and the relationships that a group of 4 friends have related to that addiction.
The film begins with a look at the childhood of bassist Nikki Sixx. The turbulence, fights with his mom to the point where he cut himself and called the cops on her, and his abandonment from his father –all would be the basis of his eventual addiction to heroin.
The Rise – A High That Will Never End
Like all movies about addiction, it begins with the highs. Before Motley Crue was a huge deal, they lived just off of the Sunset Strip in an apartment that had the front door nailed shut because it had been kicked in by the police so often.
The Dirt spends 35 minutes in the first act giving the viewer a sense of the pure drug-fueled anarchy and girl-filled nights that would come to define the band for decades. Sleeping with each other’s girlfriends, the record label executive’s girlfriend, and doing more drugs than is humanly possible was their norm.
The band is living in the high of addiction, the slippery slope that leads to helplessness. They are living the lives that they will be paying for later in steps 8 and 9: recounting all their misdeeds and apologizing to everyone they hurt.
They are living in a debt that they will surely pay. But like most addicts, it’s not obvious, not yet. Ask anyone in a men’s sober living home, and they will remember these times. A false sense of rock star lifestyle that hid a real inner demon.
The Fall – Weird How Things Always End Poorly
Anyone who has struggled with addiction and the experience with it can tell you that the signs are there, but it takes a fall, sometimes to rock bottom, to notice them. Like all movies about addiction, the fall begins half-way through the second act.
Around this time Vince Neil was in a devasting car crash with drummer and friend Razzle. Neil, who was driving, had crashed into an oncoming car that left Razzle dead and the 2 passengers of the other car with serious brain damage. Neil plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter and spent a few weeks in jail. Afterwards he was forced into court-ordered sobriety.
But things were worse for Nikki Sixx. The Dirt takes excerpts from Sixx’s autobiography where he details his downward spiral into heroin addiction. About the time that things were falling apart for the alcoholic Vince Neil, Sixx was just finding “the true love of his life,” heroin.
The Road Never Changes
Vince Neil loses his daughter; Nikki Sixx overdoses and dies; Tommy Lee loses the love of his life, his wife Heather Locklear, after his sex tape with Pamela Anderson is leaked; and Mick Mars continues to suffer from a bone degenerative disease.
But they decide to get sober, maintaining their camaraderie through relapses, break ups, deaths, divorces and the rest – until their final shows in 2015.
The Dirt chronicles the rise and fall of Motley Crue, but it also gives us a glimpse at all of our inner demons. You can be a rock star, or a joe schmo, addiction does not give a damn. With all the money in the world, all the fame that came with it, the members of Motley Crue could
Why sober living houses for men? Because the alternative is much worse – and The Dirt is proof of that.
It’s a great film and for those who have dealt with addiction, it’s a great film about addiction. If we had to pick on 2 issues, they would be:
The film skims over some of the harsh realities in favor of a more glossed-over feel. Though there are moments where drug usage is glorified, they are balanced with real accounts of the destruction that it causes. There is a good balance.
The second issue is more related to the material it’s based on. This is going to be a problem moving forward. Queen have done it and now Motley Crue. These bands are taking control of their stories and crafting it’s retelling to suit their narrative, leaving in just a little pinch of reality which makes it difficult to criticize the film overall.
Real movies about addiction are a little grittier and the best biographical films are those that focus on a specific period of time. Telling the entire band’s story from start to finish makes it extremely difficult to orient a theme or meaning, instead this becomes an exercise in nostalgia.
With that in mind, this is a great exercise in nostalgia, and will be received well by boomers and Gen X·rs who remember the fond times of metal in the 1980s.